To the editor:
"IEEE-USA seeks crackdown on H-1B abuses" ignores the career devastation that H-1B is causing for American workers. Concern centers on improving the working conditions of H-1B visa holders and ignores the plight of U.S. citizens who are displaced from their jobs. Considering that the IEEE-USA is supposed to be an advocate for U.S. engineers and other high-tech workers, this omission is very glaring.
The IEEE calls for the Department of Labor to have broader authority to investigate employer abuses of the H-1B visa program. It's a very popular notion that the problems with H-1B can be solved by enforcing existing laws. The IEEE doesn't seem to grasp the concept that H-1B is so riddled with loopholes there really isn't much to enforce. H-1B is a free-for-all for employers and that won't change just because the DoL is given another meaningless mandate.
H-1B visa holders have won many court decisions in their favor when they have filed complaints to the DoL against unscrupulous employers. The DoL is quick to defend these high-tech Braceros but they usually turn a deaf ear to complaints from American citizens. Investigations initiated on behalf of U.S. workers are usually charades designed to exonerate employers.
Improving the investigative powers of the DoL sounds good in theory but it won't accomplish much in the real world. A far better approach would be to require the DoL to do more on the behalf of American workers who have valid complaints.
All of this begs a question that nobody seems to want to ask: If H-1Bs are so exploited, then why are [foreign engineers] clamoring to get visas to work in the U.S.? Obviously most of them don't feel like they are being abused enough to stay in their home country, and they are willing to accept their indentured status as a price of admission into the U.S. labor market. It's a serious delusion that H-1Bs can be helped despite themselves but that doesn't seem to stop the IEEE and many other misguided do-gooders from trying.
Job destruction and salary depression for U.S. workers will continue whether H-1Bs are abused or notalthough we should all want improvements for humanitarian reasons. Our economic system is based on capitalism with its inescapable law of "supply and demand." That simple law cannot be changed by misguided attempts at socializing wage scales as the IEEE suggests. Labor arbitration will continue as long as H-1B and other nonimmigrant guest workers are allowed to flood the U.S. labor market.